Throughout human history there have been many widespread epidemics and disease outbreaks that were responsible for mass deaths and suffering. Among these epidemics is the Black Death, which killed 25 million people between 1347 and 1352. Smallpox, measles, typhus, and influenza in the 15th and 16th centuries caused the population of Mexico to drop from 20 to three million. Smallpox killed almost 60 million Europeans in the 18th century. In the 19th century, tuberculosis killed an estimated one-quarter of the total adult population in Europe. The influenza epidemic (also called Spanish flu) in 1918 killed almost 2 percent of the total world population.

There have been many innovations in the medical field that have helped control or eliminate communicable diseases. However, the 2014 outbreak of the ...

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